On the First Scuff

They say the first cut is the deepest, but that’s not quite right, is it? It’s the first scuff that’s the deepest.

Last week, I notice the first scuffs on our new car. A year old, I knew it was inevitable, but, still, as I rounded the corner in the garage, my heart skipped a beat when I saw the scuffs over the rear driver-side wheel. I didn’t run into anything, so I can only surmise a rock hit the car. The damage is minimal, and you wouldn’t notice it unless I pointed it out, but, still, I know. My wonderful, beautiful new car, well, it’s not ruined, but it felt that way for a moment.

We’ve all been there. If not with a car, after buying a great new pair of shoes. They look so clean and snazzy on your feet. The gleaming white, the spotless sole, the vibrant colors. And, then, after a trudge through the mall food court, you spot the black streak down the corner of the toe box. In that moment, something inside you dies.

Your love is never the same, is it? The funny thing is, it’s something of a relief when the first bump, the first scratch, the first scuff happens. You can finally exhale, no longer protecting its flawlessness. You can relax. It’s as if you achieve a healthy equilibrium, a healthy perspective on something that is, ultimately, not important. But, until that first scuff, all bets are off on rationality. We are the guardians of the unblemished.

We treat people the same way. As parents, we protect children from any and all harms. We know it’s a losing battle, but that doesn’t stop us from going above and beyond (and beyond that) to insulate little Timmy from all the ills of the world, physical, mental, and emotional. As neurotic as we are at keeping our kids unblemished, we oddly value adults that have been around the block a few times. That have a few scuffs and scrapes. We call it life experience. Wisdom.

I’ve never considered my shoes or car wise, but I have noticed that, once broken in, once stripped of the veneer of perfection, I actually enjoy them more. These things wear into a level of comfort, of ease that brings me happiness and satisfaction. You learn the feel of the car, and you love the feel of the shoe. Not perfect, but just right.

It’s a good reminder that, sometimes, the mistakes people make, the flaws they exhibit, well, that’s just their journey to wisdom. Their journey to being, feeling, and doing good.

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